Today, Panini released some of the first non-mock up images of a new product they have affectionately titled “Black.” Before I get into my reaction to the preview itself, I definitely think these cards look great. This one specific card definitely shows a simplistic black design with a nice layout and an understated beauty. However, outside of that subset, I think we have gotten the idea that the rest of this product isnt really at the same level.
This brings me back to Gold Standard, and the focus that Panini put on one specific element of the set. The rookie patch autos seemed to get more attention than any other card because of its spot as the box hit, and as a result the entire product suffered. Not only were the rookie patch autos ridiculously ugly and poorly executed to begin with, but the rest of the examples from the set were some of the worst of the year. Of course, this isnt even saying that this was also one of the most expensive sets Panini released (its now selling at close to half of original MSRP).
For Black, I am getting the same sort of vibe, even though its not even close to as bad as what I thought Gold Standard was. However, when you take a concept that has already been done and done well by Upper Deck in two sports, and re-imagine it rather unsuccessfully, that is an issue. Additionally, both the Upper Deck sets in basketball and football featured 100% on card autographs, and produced some of the best looking cards I have ever seen.
If Panini is going to continue with this type of product release calendar, with underwhelming content and even less compelling thematic elements, I hope we continue to see the type of backlash that collectors have started to spew on previously pro-Panini boards.
Again, these are great looking, but it doesnt look to be anything THAT special. I mean, we have already had unlicensed UD black cards in Exquisite, and Licensed NFL cards in Inception, these just arent really that unique. For a new product, lack of creativity is a big issue.